Monday, March 24, 2008

Today in links: March 24

Quite a few interesting stories out there today, so I've decided to dust off my old-school link-driven blog hat. Enjoy.

- Writing for HoopsWorld, Sam Amick comes up with a list of Most Improved Player candidates, and our starting power forward makes an appearance:
Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge – At some point last season, the Kings inquired about finding a deal to bring the rookie power forward to Sacramento.

And while they weren't likely alone in that department, chances are the Trail Blazers execs aren't taking those kinds of calls anymore. Aldridge is as big a part of Portland's surprise season as any, with his scoring increasing from nine points per game to 17.8 in the sort of output that went far beyond the proportionate rise in minutes (22.1 to 34.5). He would lead the league in the increased-scoring category if only he qualified, but there is a 70-game minimum from the season prior and Aldridge only played in 63 games in 2006-07.

There's a couple interesting things to note in that excerpt. First, it doesn't surprise me that the Kings have asked about LaMarcus, but I had never heard that prior to this column. Secondly, I was unaware that you had to play 70 games to qualify for the league title in increased scoring average. 70 games seems like a really high threshold to meet. Moreover, who knew that the increased scoring average award was so high sought after that they had to make a minimum games requirement?

If it wasn't for Hedo Turkolu, I'd think LaMarcus would have a damn fine chance of winning MIP this season. Hedo notwithstanding, I think L.A. has a better than average chance.

- The Columbian's Brian Hendrickson writes about Aldridge's improved play. If Aldridge had been this good all season we'd be right in the thick of the playoff hunt.

- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has a rather pessimistic take on Darius Miles' knee injury situation. The collective bargaining agreement can be a bit ironic sometimes.

- Writing for, Steve Aschburner ponders the Roy for Foye trade. You've heard the story before, but Aschburner adds an interesting thought I had neglected to ponder:
"I think that happens with every draft, picks that are right next to each other and how they develop four or five years down the road,'' Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "Certain people are always going to bring up [Darko] Milicic over Carmelo [Anthony, drafted second and third in 2003].''

This one, though, is different. This one is almost too easy, like tipping that barrel over, then simply picking up the fish by hand as they flop around on the sidewalk.

In this one, Minnesota already had the better player. It chose Roy and had him -- had him! -- right up on that stage with commissioner David Stern, a Wolves cap tugged down over his youthful, smiling face. Then McHale got ... creative. He traded Roy minutes later to the Trail Blazers for Foye and $1 million, delighting his owner with both the free cash and another $1 million saved in paying the seventh pick rather than the sixth. At that point, the Wolves announced that they had preferred Foye all along. "We just felt Foye had more juice and was quicker,'' McHale said, "and was just such a ball hawk and such a defensive presence and such a tough kid. We just really wanted to get him.''

So how's that working out for the Wolves?

Since that draft, Portland is 6-2 in head-to-head meetings, including a 4-0 sweep this season. Roy, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, made it to New Orleans last month as a member of the Western Conference All-Star squad. He has led the Blazers in scoring 34 times this season and in assists 37 times, and has scored at least 25 points in 20 games. He scored 22 or more in all four meetings with the team that drafted him.

Who knows, if the league's best newcomer had clicked instantly with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota a year ago, the entire look of the NBA might be different right now.

So it's Brandon's fault that the Celtics are so good. Thanks B-Roy, thanks a lot!

- If you haven't seen it yet, here's video of Greg Oden shopping for Groceries in the Rise With Us blog. I spent much of my collegiate summers stocking beer and wine at that Haggen's in Tualatin. They run though booze in that joint like you wouldn't believe.

- More Oden. Jason Quick had a story in yesterday's Oregonian about Greg running hills in Tigard. Certainly worth the read. I only wish they had the picture that ran in the paper available online in which you can see an out-of-focus Jason Quick trying to run up the hill after Greg and Jay Jensen. Hilarious. UPDATE: Here's the picture.

- Tonight's game against the Sonics might be the last in Seattle. I think Clay Bennett probably will be allowed to move the team, but I doubt it'll be by the start of next season. Here's some quotes about the Trail Blazers/SuperSonics rivalry.

- Here's a thought provoking piece from Ben at Blazer's Edge about the best duos in the NBA. By the way, I know for a fact that neither Dave nor Ben live in their mother's basements.

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